Are lives in gaming still needed?

Discussion in 'General Gaming Discussion' started by Taleweaver, Jan 10, 2014.


Are lives in games still needed?

  1. Yes. Absolutely! I can name dozens of recent games that just wouldn't work without it!

    3 vote(s)
  2. It should probably stay in some form or another. Depending on the game

    19 vote(s)
  3. Neutral or "I don't fucking care"

    6 vote(s)
  4. Seeing it this way, it has a point. But I'm not entirely convinced yet

    1 vote(s)
  5. What's the bloody point if you have infinite continues anyway?

    10 vote(s)
  1. Taleweaver

    Taleweaver Storywriter

    Dec 23, 2009
    Belgium's a question for y'all: what is the use of lives in games nowadays?

    Back in the old days, games were designed for arcade purposes. There had to be a way to make sure nobody hogged those machines the whole time unless they fed it quarters every so often. So lives were introduced. It carried over to early consoles with the same idea. In time, consoles reacted to the idea. At first, extra lives were used as a prime way to reward people who did exceptionally well or went out of their way to risk things. But gradually, infinite continues became the norm (truly...when was the last time that "game over" REALLY meant game over?) and scores kind of become sort of there in most games. That, and the fact that save states started being used...pretty much everywhere outside arcade games, that started to fill the place. There still has to be a drawback for not playing well, but being thrown back to the last save point or the beginning of the level served as the same thing.

    I never thought of it until pointed out in Yahtzee's comparison between Rayman origins and NSMBW, but he certainly had a point...why are there still lives in games nowadays? It's not like recent games are really going to throw you back all the way to the start if you fuck up too many times (if you know examples of recent games without save states or endless it below).

    Well...perhaps I should turn it around and ask which games still DO use lives nowadays. Sports and racing games make you restart the match/race. Same for RTS'es and puzzle games. Action-adventures, FPS'es and RPG's go with save states. Fighting games have endless continues. Fuck...even survival horror games don't tend with lives (though I could certainly be wrong on this).
    In fact...I wanted to say that platformers are the only remaining type to use it, but games like Rayman and VVVVVV don't use it either.

    So...I really can't think of anyone still using it outside nintendo, but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt here.

    Keep also in mind: this is something to design to. If you have infinite lives, you can make the game harder. Or even much harder (and put the savepoints close by). Certainly, there may be some frustratingly hard sections in it (I managed to die over 70 times in VVVVVV's final challenge), but your player won't ragequit the game over it if they appear.
    On a Mario game, however...losing a game is always something that is rubbed in. How is that supposed to be fun?

    So...your stance or opinion on this? :)

    Oh, and yes...Gahars was a direct inspiration for this thread. His post in this thread made me do it: :P

    chavosaur, filfat and Gahars like this.

  2. FAST6191

    FAST6191 Techromancer

    pip Reporter
    Nov 21, 2005
    If you design the challenge in your game to use lives then I will accept it. Few do and in most cases I would question the logic of doing so (people can make their own challenge in a game, though you might have to prod them a bit to make it happen).

    To that end yeah most implementations of lives are antiquated systems people seem to want to include "because you do". As this sort of logic the basis of pointless tradition and worse things (see much of religion) then yeah.
  3. Guild McCommunist

    Guild McCommunist (not on boat)

    May 6, 2009
    United States
    The Danger Zone
    They're really not, the only "challenge" they create is just forcing you to do over parts of a game you already conquered. It was designed to inflate playtime back in the days before saving was really a thing. In modern games like New Super Mario Bros. it really makes no sense.
    Gahars likes this.
  4. Nah3DS

    Nah3DS Madre de Dios! Es El POLLO DIABLO!!!

    Feb 9, 2010
    imagine SHMUPS without lives
    EZ-Megaman likes this.
  5. renes2

    renes2 ~New World~

    Mar 14, 2009
    Gambia, The
    In the beginning, Games like Mario were for Kids.

    They did die very often.
    But it seems that all Games today are simply to soft/easy (good, Not ALL but mist of them)

    And with savestate's and co its simply "outdated"
  6. Gahars

    Gahars Bakayaro Banzai

    Aug 5, 2011
    United States
    New Jersey
    Lives are really just a waste of time. That makes sense when you're designing around arcades and stuff, where the goal is to make the player spend as much money as possible, but not for anything else. The developers that still make games around lives systems aren't doing it because it's essential to the game's experience, but out of blind adherence to old conventions. They use the system without really thinking about why it's there. Take some of Mario's recent games, where there's usually "glitches" that let the player easily rack up essentially infinite lives; if you're going to render the lives useless anyway, why bother having them in the first place?

    Removing the lives system encourages experimentation from the player ("I can take this risk because I don't have to worry about losing all of my progress!") and more challenging level design ("I can make this trickier because I don't have to worry about the player being booted all the way back to start!").

    Rayman Origins (I still need to play Legends) and Super Meat Boy are both excellent, challenging platformers that respect the player's time and patience. Hotline Miami benefits from this principle as well.
  7. zeello

    zeello The reason we can't have nice things.

    Apr 15, 2013
    United States
    OFC lives are pointless and it's almost kind of embarrassing that Mario series continues to use them.
    lives also made Sonic 06 worse (true story) since you lose all your progress if you didn't save, which you are not prompted to do before a stage.
    Lives lead to stupid things like in Mega Man or Mega Man X games where you get up to a boss and when you have 0 lives left you finally beat the boss. (and you ALWAYS lose the first life since you were not at full health when you reached the boss) So you enter a stage with 0 lives and miraculously get up to the boss only to die and you lose all your progress in the stage... You are punished for not losing that last life on purpose when you first entered the stage, just to reset your life counter.

    On second thought however lives are needed in some games such as shmups, and Mr. Driller series.
    And things like survival modes in games obviously hinge on not being able to continue.

    Another example I can think of is grand prix mode is F-Zero GX (and the original F-Zero for SNES), but maybe lives are not needed here after all. In fact by having lives you're allowing the player to restart a race in order to try to get 1st place. (iirc) If you had infinite respawns the game would actually be harder in a way. (and it would be more of a racing game where its you vs. the opponents... and less of an action game where it's you vs the course... but this can be for better or for worse)
  8. Guild McCommunist

    Guild McCommunist (not on boat)

    May 6, 2009
    United States
    The Danger Zone

    Difficulty wouldn't be horribly and artificially inflated! Yay!

    Literally you just create checkpoints to give fair challenge. Checkpoints mean that you are at a certain point until you get enough skill to get past that certain point. Lives means you can get past a point with skill but then have to redo that again because you didn't have enough skill for the next area. Checkpoints create challenge and an urge to beat it. Lives create repetition and make many games just boring.
  9. omgpwn666

    omgpwn666 Guy gamer and proud!

    Jun 14, 2008
    United States
    Depends on the game, in my opinion.
  10. FAST6191

    FAST6191 Techromancer

    pip Reporter
    Nov 21, 2005
    They exist, many are even quite good. You just get far less score if you die a lot.
  11. Hadrian

    Hadrian Better than Craigslist

    Former Staff
    Oct 12, 2004
    Yes. You always got your money's worth, sure it's a cheap way of extending the game but finishing those games always gave me a feeling that I've actually accomplished something. Finishing Bioshock Infinite...meh that was a decent 6 hours or so, move on to the next one. Finishing Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams...ah man finally! Fuck you game, I GOT YOU IN THE END!!!!

    It makes you a better gamer having to go through the same challenges over and over and you appreciate little things that you may have missed as you go through them again and again.
    EZ-Megaman, filfat and NahuelDS like this.
  12. aiat_gamer

    aiat_gamer GBAtemp Fan

    May 1, 2008
    Super meat boy! enough said...
  13. Dork

    Dork Newbie

    Why shouldn't they stay? It's just a form of punishing bad players while rewarding good players.
  14. FAST6191

    FAST6191 Techromancer

    pip Reporter
    Nov 21, 2005
    Why do you want to punish bad players? You can still reward good players without alienating the less skilled ones?

    That said I would have no objections to games have autoplay buttons.
  15. Dork

    Dork Newbie

    Because it enforces them to do better the next time.
  16. FAST6191

    FAST6191 Techromancer

    pip Reporter
    Nov 21, 2005
    Really? I see a lot of people quit and tell their friends not to bother with the game. You can always make challenge in various ways for those that want it.
    filfat likes this.
  17. Dork

    Dork Newbie

    I've seen quite the opposite with the people I've played with. My point is, when a player sees he is low on lives, or is on his last one, he will want to play more carefully and consider what he's doing, because if he fails the consequence will be huge.
  18. Arras

    Arras GBAtemp Guru

    Sep 14, 2010
    Giana Sisters didn't have lives from what I remember though. At least I remember dying like a million times on the first boss without issues.

    Anyway, in my opinion, anything that can set you back more than 5-10 minutes in a game needs to go. Period. Of course there are some exceptions, but generally if you get thrown back that far the game just becomes no longer fun. I tried to play Demon's Souls. I really did. I will admit that I wasn't that great at it, but that's okay. What's not okay was me being thrown back like 20-30 minutes every time I died. I could do that starting area no fucking problem. Why make me do it again and again and again and again? And exploration is usually rewarded with death, either because of an enemy you should not have attempted to fight yet or a trap that you couldn't have seen coming, so trying to find shortcuts is pretty much discouraged as well.
  19. Tom Bombadildo

    Tom Bombadildo Honk!

    pip Contributor
    GBAtemp Patron
    Tom Bombadildo is a Patron of GBAtemp and is helping us stay independent!

    Our Patreon
    Jul 11, 2009
    United States
    I forgot
    Lives are pretty outdated nowadays yeah, there aren't very many genres that really "benefit" from lives anymore now that we have checkpoints/save point systems.

    Arras, I understand your frustration with Demons Souls, but you should really pay attention to the online parts of the games when you play. Bloodstains/player messages will always warn you when there's a trap or a tough enemy ahead, it's sort of your fault if you don't pay attention to these in this particular game. I can't really stress enough to pay attention to the online in this series, it's practically a requirement if you ever want to finish the games. I do agree that sending you back to the beginning is a bit of a bitch, but once you learn to..."play the game by it's rules", so to speak, it becomes relatively easy. I do urge you to try Dark Souls over Demons Souls though if you liked the concept of the game, it vastly improves upon a lot of the issues new players have with Demons Souls.
  20. Hadrian

    Hadrian Better than Craigslist

    Former Staff
    Oct 12, 2004
    Simply put: If you're shit at games, you want rid of this.
    KingVamp, NahuelDS, nasune and 2 others like this.